Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.More articles by Aaron Todd
The Poker Players Alliance, which eclipsed the 500,000-member mark last week, recently hired its first full-time staff member for its Washington, D.C. office.
John Pappas, who has worked with the PPA since its inception two years ago as a consultant for D.C.-based Dittus Communications, has been named the vice president of government relations. Prior to working for Dittus, Pappas spent six years doing public relations and press secretary work for Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), and he still has many connections on Capitol Hill.
"It's just another step in the growth and evolution of this organization," Pappas said. "It's good to have a full-time person in Washington whose only interest is in ensuring that the interests of the Poker Players Alliance and its members are being met."
The PPA has come a long way since Pappas first started working with the group.
"(For) the first several months of the organization, it was pretty languid," Pappas said. "It was frustrating. And I guess it's a double-edged sword, but the reason the organization took off is Congressman Goodlatte introduced his Internet gambling prohibition bill and people started to recognize that this was a very serious threat."
Pappas says it's human nature to become active once your rights are threatened. "We never had people call into Congressman Shadegg's office and say 'Hey, great work.'.
The PPA has seen membership grow more than 400 percent in less than three months since the more positive news that former Senator Alfonse D'Amato had been named chairman of the organization. D'Amato has stated that he would like to increase membership to over a million in the coming months.
"He has an aggressive timeline," Pappas said. "I think it's reachable. We're going to see some very exciting things happening in the next few weeks. Hopefully (House Financial Services Committee Chairman) Barney Frank will be holding a hearing in the next few weeks, and it's very likely that another member of Congress will be introducing legislation in this area that talks specifically about skill game exemptions including poker, bridge, chess, etc."
Pappas will be coordinating lobbying and grassroots efforts in Washington D.C. as well as educating Congressmen and staffers on the Hill on the issues surrounding poker.